Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Starring John McConnell, Mark McLachlan, J.P. Delahoussaye
Directed by H.G. Lewis
Distributed by Arrow Video (UK DVD)
Way back in 1963, director Herschell Gordon Lewis broke new grounds in cinematic depravity with the (then) superlatively gory Blood Feast. The ethos of that single film would serve to propel him through a career swimming in the red stuff; with low budget shock-fests like The Wizard of Gore, Two Thousand Maniacs! and The Gruesome Twosome rightfully earning him the moniker “The Godfather of Gore”.
In 2002, after a 30-year absence from behind the camera, Lewis presented us with Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat – a deceptively entertaining, yet hugely overlooked, dose of gore-soaked silliness now subject to a brand new DVD release in the UK via Arrow Video.
Echoing the plot of the first movie, Blood Feast 2 sees the innocent Fuad Ramses III (J.P. Delahoussaye) reopen his grandfather’s long dead catering business unaware of the history it holds. Of course, to keep things simple, the monstrous statue of Egyptian goddess Ishtar still resides in the storeroom, and poor Fuad is almost immediately possessed. Now, transformed into a raving loony, Fuad sets his sights on the members of his recent wedding party contract in order to create Ishtar’s ultimate tribute – the Blood Feast.
As more and more women show up dead and mutilated, the flick follows the bumbling duo of detectives Loomis (John McConnell) and Myers (Mark McLachlan), the latter of who is also the groom at the wedding, as they attempt to track down the perpetrator.
Nobody ever has, nor could, accuse H.G. Lewis of being a genuinely good filmmaker – his career is built on lower-than-B-grade trash after all, but similar to the likes of Lloyd Kaufman, his movies must be viewed using a wholly different set of expectations than critical standard. In this sense, Blood Feast 2 is a raging success. Not only is it excessively gory (sickly, even, in parts), but it’s also legitimately funny. Visually, it looks cheap and uninspired – Lewis employs no glitzy camera tricks, displays no directorial flair, and blocks as easily as possible for an obviously quick shooting schedule. Again, being an H.G. Lewis film this is something to be expected, alongside lingering close-ups of the extreme mutilation conducted during the kill scenes and uniformly hammy acting from the cast. Not to mention a moderate amount of randomly bared breasts (the bridesmaids suddenly decide to have a lingerie party – yay for us!) and characters with names like Misty Morning, Candy Graham and Laci Hundees.
The gore itself, created by Joe Castro and his team, is very impressive for a low budget picture with graphic gutting, eye-gouging, decapitation, dismemberment and even brain removal presented in loving, sticky drawn-out detail as Fuad revels in the glee of his bloody mission.
What makes everything work is the fact that not one shred of the film takes itself seriously. The majority of the cast play their characters to hyperbolic levels of absurdity, while the two main players –McConnell and McLachlan as Loomis and Myers – play theirs with a straight-laced quality that is essential to making the humour so successful. Loomis is a food addict, eating something in almost every location while attempting to convince Myers that Fuad couldn’t possibly be the killer. Myers is a hopped-up young detective who vomits at every crime scene and brings a gun to his own wedding. When the tables turn towards the finale and Loomis begins to believe that Ramses is indeed responsible, but Myers won’t listen to him, the situational comedy that plays out really delivers because of these two. One laugh-out-loud moment sees Loomis, at a crime scene, exclaim “I don’t know who this guy is…but he sure doesn’t leave a lot of clues.” while wiping his forehead with a discarded oven glove left on a nearby chair. Viewers who notice the Halloween reference (who doesn’t?) should also get a laugh out of one of the flick’s final lines of dialogue. Look out for John Waters in a sleazily entertaining cameo as the paedophilic priest overseeing the marriage.
The above should give you an idea of the level of silliness that Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat happily subscribes to. It’s a silliness that, once accepted, leads to a surprisingly light-hearted and witty amalgamation of trashy comedy and extreme gore, largely bereft of the eye-rolling inherent when genre-themed attempts at generating laughs fail. The soundtrack however is legitimately terrible, with some completely out of place rockabilly songs playing during the most grotesque scenes and random exclamations of “Satan!” during scene transitions/edits feeling completely unnecessary and amateur, even for Lewis.
Arrow’s DVD is well presented with more custom artwork by Rick Melton and a reversible sleeve in case you don’t like it that much. The reverse art is pretty crappy, though. Also included in the case is a poster of Rick’s cover and a booklet featuring interviews with Lewis and producer David Friedman.
The transfer of the film itself is merely passable, with a lack of definition and even what appeared to be slight colour bleed during some of the more garishly lit moments. In fact, looking at it you’d be hard pushed to believe that Blood Feast 2 was shot on 35mm. Audio, as with Arrow’s recent Street Trash release, is Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo only but perfectly acceptable for a movie that was never destined to give your home theatre a workout in the first place.
On the Special Features side of things, we get an all-new featurette in the form of Gore Gourmet including interviews with Lewis himself, Fangoria’s Tony Timpone, Lloyd Kaufman and Jeremy (The Wizard of Gore remake) Kasten. This is a nice discussion of Lewis’ impact on the genre, and cinema in general, with the best anecdotes coming from the Godfather himself. At 20 minutes long it all feels a little too short, however.
Alongside this we have a small selection of Deleted/Extended Scenes and Behind-The-Scenes featurettes giving a short look at the gore effects and on-set hijinx with the cast and crew. Coming in at around 25 minutes or so in total these additions aren’t exceptionally insightful or involving, but are welcome nonetheless.
The real star of the package here is the film itself, and this new release is definitely worth picking up if you don’t already own the movie. A disappointing suite of extras beyond the Gore Gourmet featurette (a commentary would have been nice) unfortunately knock it down a notch, but the poster and booklet are pleasing additions. If, like me, you didn’t give Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat any real attention back in 2002 don’t be surprised if you start kicking yourself as much as I did. Here, Lewis proves he’s still a master of the ridiculous style he created – imitators (like the atrocious Smash Cut) be damned.
- All-new artwork poster
- Booklet containing director and producer interviews
- Deleted Scenes
- Gore Gourmet
- On the Set with Herschell Gordon Lewis
- Behind the Scenes
- Behind the Gore
3 1/2 out of 5
2 out of 5
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